We’ve all been on the wrong end of a relationship that suddenly disintegrated out of nowhere. Whether it was friend, family member or significant other, the end emotion is the same—it sucks. Likewise, when the customer a startup has worked tirelessly to obtain decides to call it quits, pain is the end result.
But what if you could limit the likelihood of this nasty feeling coming about, altogether? No, complete elimination isn’t a realistic outcome, but there are certainly steps that can be taken to keep your customers onboard for the long haul. As an entrepreneur, you’ve probably read about a few of the more popular suggestions:
- Delve into the mind of your customers—know what drives them to make purchases.
- Keep an eye out for what’s selling and what isn’t. Make adjustments accordingly.
- Give your current customers space. They don’t need to be bombarded with offers.
These really do work, but throughout the course of a career filled with regular startup interaction, I’ve come across a few others that aren’t given near the time and attention they deserve. Below, you’ll find three of them:
1) Resist the Urge to Discount
We’ve all signed up for services like SiriusXM and Hulu for a “Free, 30-Day Trial.”
And while some of us eventually make the leap to becoming a full-blown customer, the vast majority cancel as soon as the freebie offer has run its course. Case in point? Discounts (and free stuff) are great, but they are by no means a great way to build customer loyalty.
The reason discounts are so tempting for marketers comes from their instant appeal.
Regardless of the product or service in question, discounts almost always immediately bring about more customers. Good stuff, but once the deal is over, you’ll find that most of them were looking for a one-off relationship or didn’t recognize the value in the first place—nothing more.
Instead, switch up the order of things.
Once customers have bought into what you’re offering at its full price, reward them for their commitment to your company with a discount or incentive to carry on the relationship. Yes, you want to thank those who give your startup a shot, but be patient, doing it after a buyer has shown genuine interest along with understanding your pricing model.
One of the hardest things I’ve seen in sales is companies struggling to win a customer back when they could’ve taken care to handle the business the right way, the first time.
2) Educate Buyers On Your Offer’s Most Valuable Features Upfront
You’ve used Bitly before, right?
It’s a link-shortener used predominately by email and social media marketers to win clicks and drive traffic without the hindrance of lengthy URLs. As far as most of us are concerned, Bitly does one thing, and one thing alone—shorten links.
But believe it or not, Bitly does quite a bit more than that—it’s a highly effective marketing tool that shortens links, and then delivers priceless information to digital marketers about the people who’ve clicked on said links.
The problem? For the longest time, hardly anybody knew this.
To fix this, Bitly made it a point to make education a stronghold of their marketing blueprint. The idea was that when people came to an accurate understanding of their more valuable features, they’d commit to sticking around for longer periods of time.
The good news? It worked.
In fact, in a conversation with Entrepreneur’s Joseph Pigato, Bitly’s CEO Mark Josephson said as much, commenting, “I saw the immense power of Bitly and realized that customers needed to rethink who we were and what we did. We refocused the entire company on helping marketers get the extensive value our product offered that they hadn’t realized to date; and it revolutionized our customer experience and value.”
Needless to say, if you want to retain a more sizable portion of your hard-fought customers, make certain that those entering your sales process are well aware of your product or service’s most valuable features every step of the way.
They’ll recognize the quality, and will more thoroughly convert while sticking with you.
3) Pay More Attention to Quality Customers
Not all customers are created equal—it might seem harsh, but it’s true. Your startup doesn’t have the money or manpower to handle each and every customer the same way. As such, show some favoritism—it won’t hurt you.
Think about it—if you’re frequently landing customers who aren’t a good fit for what your business offers, you’re stuck wasting time, energy and resources on them. Even worse, having little understanding of what you offer or how it satisfies a genuine, recurring need, they’re likely to exit through the side-door.
Nobody likes being left out in the cold—startups included.
No matter your business’ area of expertise, without a strong base of loyal, long-time customers, failure could be a harsh reality. To both attract and keep customers, make a conscious effort to implement each of the above strategies. They’ve worked for countless clients of mine, and they’ll work for you, too.
It’s a short list, but it’s a good list.
That said, working together, let’s make it a bit longer, shall we? In the comments section below, share your tips and tricks for retaining customers. As usual, I’ll be checking back in every now and again to see what you’ve got for me—thanks for reading!
- Image Credit:
– Featured Image, Pexels